How Jealousy Could Destroy The Internet

from the irrational-decision-making dept

Jealousy is a very powerful emotion. It can make for some great stories in books or movies, but it has no place in the board room — yet, that’s where it is these days. Fred Wilson pointed this out quite clearly last week, when he correctly said that all this talk by the Baby Bells that Google, Microsoft, Vonage and other successful web companies should pay the telcos extra was simple jealousy. Wilson tells the Bells to “dream on,” and while we hope he’s right, he may be underestimating the destructive power of jealousy. And, it’s not just the Baby Bells who are acting this way — but plenty of online businesses. If they keep it up, they’re going to destroy a good thing, just because they can’t stand the thought of someone else being successful.

We first mentioned this idea almost exactly a year ago, when a bunch of bloggers started complaining about others making their sites more accessible. The complaint was that these other sites were “profiting” from the work of others — but that’s not true. They were profiting from making the work of others more useful. Just as Google and the others made SBC AT&T’s DSL lines valuable, getting angry over someone making your product more valuable is all about jealousy. There’s this weird belief that no one else should be allowed to profit from anything you do — even if that profit is from adding value to it, often in ways that add value to you as well. It’s why we hear stories about big companies freaking out over sites that drive more traffic and interest in their services or who aggregate your content in ways you don’t like. In many cases, it may be legally correct to make these moves — but that doesn’t mean it makes business sense. Very often, the opposite is true.

Considering the powerful position Google has these days online, it’s no surprise that Google is often at the center of this jealousy. It’s the main company the Baby Bells want to pay up. It also explains the Google Print controversy — as authors and book publishers are upset, even though Google is making their content more useful by making it searchable. The latest case of Google jealousy comes courtesy of online publishers, with a Business Week writer suggesting the idea of having major publishers completely cut their content off from Google. It is, as the cliche goes, cutting off your nose to spite your face. People are so upset that Google is successful, they don’t seem to notice that it’s helped make them more successful too. Google is successful because it’s adding value, not just for users, but to the sites it directs its traffic. Cutting Google off makes the content less useful and serves no purpose other than giving in to destructive jealousy. Part of the power of the internet is that it has been able to avoid most of this, by making it easy to link, embed, modify and copy — to offer new and different ways to manipulate and view the information that’s out there. It’s that openness that makes the whole thing valuable. Throwing up walls, tollbooths and blockades for the sake of jealousy harms the entire system. Those who support these moves claim they do so to try to maximize their own profit — trying to take a piece of the cut from these other services that make their product valuable. However, that’s a short-sighted view. If they want to do that, they should make their products more valuable on their own without cutting off others. The “profit” they believe they’re maximizing, they’re actually shrinking by cutting off the added value that others provide. The more this jealousy continues, the more harm it does to the overall value presented by the internet.

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Comments on “How Jealousy Could Destroy The Internet”

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Anonymous Coward says:

greed, not jealousy

In the case of the bandwidth providers, I don’t think that they are jealous of Google so much as they are simply eyeing Google as a potentially huge new source of revenue. These are big, old-fashioned public companies constantly looking for new revenue streams to jack up next quarter’s numbers. Absent fresh new ideas and business models, they naturally cast a covetous eye on the deep pockets of Google. It’s greed, not jealousy.

Just Another Joe says:

Re: greed, not jealousy

That all well and good if they want to increase their revenue, but what right do they have to try and charge Google for accessing their customers? Google pays to access the internet as well, granted they pay for a whole lot more bandwith than the average user would. Why should they also have to pay “tolls” to all of the other telcos? Its like the telcos want to make the internet one bit tollway of information and if they are allowed to do that, what is to stop them from charging the user to access google? Is it all going to end up internet a la carte? Access to the most popular web servers for an additional $19.95 a month? or $29.95 a month for access to everything? Scary…and totally stupid I might add.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: greed, not jealousy

Joe, I believe that if the telco had their way back several years ago, the a la carte package you described would be exactly what they would have done. Heck, this setup seems to be working for the cable television companies… and people pay it because they have just one other choice – to not watch TV (ie, to not use the internet, re: telco).

side note, very good weekend articles Mike!

Xanthir says:

Re: Re: Re: greed, not jealousy

“Heck, this setup seems to be working for the cable television companies…”

Bad analogy, actually. You pay one cost for TV. With network television, it’s ads, with cable it’s ads+cable bills.

This on the other hand, is double-charging everyone. You pay for your line, the service pays for their line, and then you both pay even more for the right to actually *use* the line.

Basically, the telcos are trying to repackage what you’re currently paying as a simple ‘connection’ fee. That way, they’re free to add an additional usage fee.

Even the other big industry that springs to mind – cellphones – isn’t this audacious. You just buy hardware and then pay for usage. No real ‘connection’ fee, unless you count all those free minutes you pay for.

Chris Lindquist (user link) says:

Re: Re: greed, not jealousy

Scary indeed. But I don’t think anyone would be surprised if the telcos try to extract some extra revenue from all those bits floating around the network. Who’s going to stop them? And maybe nobody should try.

If the telcos start charging extra fees or throttling popular sites or cutting big sites off completely, it will undoubtedly drive competition in other broadband areas–wireless, satellite, heck, maybe even broadband over powerline or broadband over gas pipes would become viable.

Right now, I have two broadband options available, and both want to tie me into a bunch of other services I’d rather not buy. Throw my gas company, power company, and a local wireless ISP into the mix, though, and I’d suddenly gain a little leverage.

Scott says:

Look at the root of the problem

Commercialization of the Internet is the problem here. Back when the World Wide Web was just information, nobody complained about issues like this. It was purely meant for free information and entertainment, and in my humble opinion, that’s the way it should have stayed. If you didn’t want your information to be manipulated in other ways, you simply wouldn’t put it online. Nowadays, everyone wants to put stuff online with restrictions, and that’s the very attitude that is destroying the Internet.

stop the bitching says:

Your missing the point

Everyone acts as if these networks just magically appeared. The phone and cable companies are spending billions putting these in the ground based on business models that show revenue from Video, Voice and Data.

I dont object to google adding value and offering a competitive service but when that happens the netowrk providers need to justify their expenses by revising their business models. As I see it that leaves 2 options- raise rates for data so that 90%+ of their revenue comes from this service and almost give the other 2 away to be competitive with the Googles, AOL’s and others offering IPTV and VoIP or only guarantee a QoS when both the 3rd party service providers and subscribers have paid for it.

Like it or not networks are not free and the network capacity needed to deliver a quality experience for these 3rd party services is significant. In fact very few cable companies, that have the fastest plants so far, are capale of delivering the bandwidth across their footprints without expensive upgrades and recovering neccesaary spectrum when analog is dropped

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Your missing the point

Everyone acts as if these networks just magically appeared. The phone and cable companies are spending billions putting these in the ground based on business models that show revenue from Video, Voice and Data.

I’m not quite sure what that has to do with anything. Let’s say I spent billions building a museum based on business models that show revenue from attendees, food sales and merchandise sales…

If the telcos were running the place, after it became more popular, they’d start trying to charge the artists/art owners for being on exhibit — forgeting that the only reason people come is because of the art.

About the only other thing that I can take from your post is that the telcos didn’t understand the economics of their own networks, and now plan to shoot themselves in the foot to fix that. If that’s a smart business plan, then we’re all in a lot of trouble.

bigpicture says:

How Jealousy Could Destroy The Internet

Trying to force control and regulation on a free market economy? A free market economy is about competition, so then deregulate the whole thing. If say AT&T wants to get into the Google web type business, let them.
But also let Google get into the carrier type business, with internet and phone services and the whole bit, and then see if these tel-cos still feel the same way about being in the web business. They want a slice of the pie without having to take any of the business financial risks, or having to compete in a free market.
That kind of business does not benefit anyone but the easy money business extortionists. It is like taxes, it is non value added. A waste??

Ramon Leonato (user link) says:

Jealousy and other threats related to bad feelings

Definitely so jealousy may destroy the internet, but other
things can destroy the internet also. Among them the fact that Internet is today
also the field for criminal activities. In the last few days I have been
receiving an enormous amount of emails which were fake from ebay, pay pal, the
Netherlands Lotto etc… trying to get from me my password to this accounts. And
some of them looked so good that could be mistaken by the real thing, but users
of the internet that engage in criminal activities disguise themselves in
anonymity that internet provides.

What about an internet between authenticated and
identified users… so that the majority of internet users that don’t mind to be
identified because they live in a free country and at the same time, not being
engaged in fraudulent activity or criminal activity don’t mind to
inter-communicate with other identified and authenticated members of the net.
Why should anyone want to be anonymous if not engaged in criminal activity?

This is my point. Why techdirt, for example, goes against
companies that are fighting to bring privacy and security within identified
users when using the internet to communicate? This is the case of the articles
posted in your website about a company called

Now, once in communication with an identified user, which
is properly authenticated, then you provide privacy, so… unless you want to
make it public, nobody can access your communication because it is properly
secured and encrypted. i.e. it travels in a closed envelope and it is unlawfull
to open it, and it is being between identified and authenticated users that
trust each other. Otherwise not only the governments with their
NSAs involved in their own

will snoop on us, but gangs of gangsters will easily intercept our
communications, phishing like the email I have received will only be the
beginning. I am starting a website to support
this kind of approach.

This requires legislation, but also requires technology.
Like the one developed by
Amteus. But
there are many

I hope that the people with vision that have given to the
internet a view that will promote freedom and cleanliness, like
John Perry Barlow will help this
company to succeed in a very honorable project.

span lang=”en-us”It is very distressing these days what is going on with
the Internet. Hopefully companies like Amteus
that are bringing a technology to overcome this problem of snooping,
spam, phishing etc.. will survive attacks from those that hide behind anonimity.

Ramon Leonatoo

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